Preschools, i.e., kindergartens or daycares, are provided either by the state and the municipality, or are private. In Riga, the number of places in municipality-run kindergartens is insufficient and registering a child in the kindergarten queue is a task most parents complete as soon as their child is born.
The majority of children attend kindergarten between the ages of 1.5 years and 6 years. The language of instruction in the kindergartens is usually either Latvian or Russian. English language preschools are offered by the international schools (see the guide section on Education) but are considerably more expensive.
Kindergartens run by the state or the municipalities are free of charge for everyone, parents only need to cover the catering costs (2-3 EUR per day). Private kindergartens cost between 250-280 EUR per month, including catering. Preschool programs in the international schools are more expensive and cost between 600-700 EUR per month.
As the state and municipality kindergartens are free of charge but may include long waiting times until getting a place. In Riga, there are subsidies available for childcare services while the child is still waiting for a kindergarten place:
These co-payments are available only for private kindergartens who have a contract with the municipality and babysitters who have registered as self-employed and have a working license. If the costs of the kindergarten or the babysitter are higher, the parents have to cover the difference themselves. Importantly, if the child gets offered a place in a municipality kindergarten but chooses not to take it, these subsidies become unavailable.
You can register your child in the queue for a kindergarten place in the municipality where you have declared your residence. There are no territorial restrictions within a municipality, meaning that the child is eligible for any childcare independent of its distance from their home. One child can be applied for a place in a maximum of three kindergartens. In Riga this registration can be done either electronically on the electronic service homepage www.eriga.lv or in a Client Service Center of the Riga Municipality, e.g. in K. Valdemara iela 5.
Be sure to compare different childcare facilities to find one that works for you!
Babysitter's are generally employed on a temporary or short-term basis. Often a friend of the family or relative is employed for an evening to watch over the child at the parents' residence.
Usually young women are the babysitter's and may offer their services as a business. A babysitter should have civil liability insurance and the babysitter's parents must be informed if the person is a minor. Only baby-sitters aged 15 or more can ask for payment.
You can also opt for a professional babysitter who has appropriate certification. In this case, if your child is in a queue for a kindergarten place, part of the babysitting costs would be subsidized by the municipality. Some babysitters additionally offer to cook or to clean the house.
A certified babysitter costs from 1.50 EUR per hour or 10-15 EUR per day. Babysitting overnight typically costs more.
Most families find a babysitter by word-of-mouth, letting friends and family know that they are looking. Parents may also try posting on bulletin boards at community centers, grocery stores, or expat hang-outs.
You can also search an online babysitter database (only in Latvian):
Another great on-line resource is to post on expat classified's, like on Easy Expat's babysitter search.
For more frequent childcare, you may consider an au pair. Consult the section on "Au Pair" under "Find a Job".